A Warning to Travelers and Travel Agents from a Friend of Freedom

German Speech Control Laws Limit American Freedoms
Published: 1995-01-10

"Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death."
George Orwell

People are asking how could it happen in the Heartland? Here where Americans feel safe and remote from the oppressive governments under which so many of the world's people suffer. How is it possible that your First Amendment freedoms can be swept aside—right here at home- by foreign police?

Well, the sad fact is that our own US Government is now cooperating with foreign police to help them jail Americans for exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech HERE in the USA. We're not talking about international terrorists, war criminals, murderers or rapists, but Americans who have committed the "crime" of using the "wrong" free speech in their own country.

At this very moment, two Americans are imprisoned in Germany for something that they wrote here on American soil. That is if Nebraska and Florida can still be considered American soil, with the Clinton Administration delivering American citizens up the German Polizei without a squeak.

Don't Count On Bill Or Hillary—You Are Not Harry Wu

Oh sure, Hillary and Bill talk a good game. Like on China, with the adoring Liberal media in tow. But the dirty little truth is that their State Department is secretly giving the Germans the passport numbers, on demand, of ordinary Americans. Partners against unpopular speech. Catchy, eh?

And you can forget using Harry Wu and Salman Rushdie as free speech role models. They are just handy pawns in the game. More important, they're politically correct. So give up any home-made Matlock/Perry Mason fantasy about how you could get out of jail, because the Germans don't use juries. That's just an American style inconvenience. If the 1930's taught them anything, it taught the Germans the value of "reliable" judges in quiet little rooms packed with hand-picked "victims."

How It Works—The Long Arm Of The German Polizei

Suppose you write a letter from Oklahoma City or Chicago to an American newspaper or magazine that is published overseas. Or maybe you're a computer junkie, chatting on the world-wide network. Well look out! If you write things that the Germans decide are offensive then you could find yourself in jail if you ever travel to Europe.

And if you are already in Europe on vacation—or, worse, you're a Euro-American immigrant and write directly to newspapers over there- you're dead meat. Using the wrong words or reading the wrong newsletter or books can put you under arrest faster than you can say "Thomas Jefferson."

You see, the Germans have this speech control law: Federal Statute 130, Article 3. It allows them to define forbidden speech any way they want, even if it was written in America under First Amendment protections. So you can be arrested in front of your loved ones and whisked away to a German jail. And no bail. Just months of awaiting a trial while your family finances back home go down the drain. Oh, yes, the non-jury decision can result in up to 5 more years in a German jail cell.

Worst of all, not onlly will the hypocrites in the Clinton Administration secretly provide your passport number to the German authorities, but also the American Consulate in Germany will stonewall your family while you sit in jail. Routine niceties, but no legal help. Remember: you are not Harry Wu.

Sounds Crazy? It's Happened Twice This Year Already

Sounds crazy does it? Well so far in 1995 alone it has already happened to two American citizens. Correct: two of our citizens are jailed in Germany with the collaboration of the US government.

In one case, an American tourist from Florida was trying to return from a family vacation when he was grabbed. Seems he wrote a nasty letter about certain German politicians and mailed it from Pensacola to another German politician. Heck, that should be good for three or four years right there! For shame! Writing something nasty about politicians! Wow! Throw away the key to his cell.

You Need To Protect Yourself—And It's Easy To Do

Even if you don't care about traditional American concepts like freedom, you still need to protect yourself and your loved ones who travel abroad.

  1. Avoid Lufthansa, the German airline. If you must use them, ask for a list of forbidden words, books, newsletters and thoughts in advance and in writing. They cannot provide such a list, because the German Polizei prefer their law to be vague enough to include any one they want to grab in the future. Maybe even every one. You know, the old "danger to the State" routine. Still, by asking and being denied, you can establish grounds for a lawsuit later on.
  2. Avoid travel through Frankfurt or any other German airport—even on American carriers. If you go through passport control, it could be Aufwiedersehen for a very long time. Rye bread for one.
  3. Fax the German Embassy in Washington DC today at (202) 471-5558 and ask for a list of the 30 or so countries in which you can be arrested at the request of the German government.
  4. Also, aks for a written list of those words, phrases and ideas that you—an American citizen—may not use here in your own country for fear of prosecution by the German government. You won't get such a list, but you can claim at your trial that you tried to follow orders. They like that.
  5. Don't be misled by denials by the Germans. The law in question is German Federal Statute 130, Article 3. Be persistent—insist on an English translation. It's the same one that was use to arrest and imprison the American tourist from Pensacola in August, 1995.
  6. WRITE—don't call—your travel agent, and ask for the list of forbidden ideas, words, books, newsletters and magazines. Again, when they do not provide the list, after you are jailed your family can start a lawsuit and bring in some income while you are away.
  7. Be sure to send a copy of all correspondence to your Congressperson, Senator, and the State Department. If you are arrested for inadvertently using the forbidden language, they can then document your attempts to obey German orders while you live in the USA.

The Spirit Of Publius: A Proud Tradition

The German authorities refuse to publish a list of forbidden words and ideas. Even remarks written in America—whose people sacrificed so many sons and daughters to liberate Germany from speech control—put citizens at risk in their own country.

But when free speech is punished, people of good conscience are driven underground. Still, there is also a proud tradition of anonymity here in America. In that tradition, we remain, simply The Spirit of Publius, still devoted after 200 years to the Bill of Rights and to glorious, irritating, unpopular free speech. Those who condemn our prudence condemn also Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay. It is a worthy company in which to be condemned.

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Hans Schmidt
Title: A Warning to Travelers and Travel Agents from a Friend of Freedom, German Speech Control Laws Limit American Freedoms
Published: 1995-01-10
First posted on CODOH: Oct. 30, 1995, 6 p.m.
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